6-12 – Fifth Sunday in Lent – Lazarus

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Sunday 5 – Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for Passover – and to  become our passover.  He is making sure people know who he really is.

This lesson is long and has a lot of characters.  I requires expressive reading to really get the emotions of the story. Have fun pulling out your over dramatic voices. 

The Raising of Lazarus by Vincent Van Gough
The Raising of Lazarus by Vincent Van Gough

John 11:1-44

Narrator: There was a certain man who was very ill. He was known as Lazarus from Bethany, which is the hometown of Mary and her sister Martha.  Mary did a beautiful thing for Jesus. She anointed the Lord with a pleasant-smelling oil and wiped His feet with her hair. Her brother Lazarus became deathly ill,  so the sisters immediately sent a message to Jesus which said, “Lord, the one You love is very ill.” Jesus heard the message.

Jesus: His sickness will not end in his death but will bring great glory to God. As these events unfold, the Son of God will be exalted.

Narrator:  Jesus dearly loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  However, after receiving this news, He waited two more days where He was.

Jesus (speaking to the disciples):  It is time to return to Judea.

Disciples:  Teacher, the last time You were there, some Jews attempted to execute You by crushing You with stones. Why would You go back?

Jesus: There are 12 hours of daylight, correct? If anyone walks in the day, that person does not stumble because he or she sees the light of the world. If anyone walks at night, he will trip and fall because he does not have the light within.

Our friend Lazarus has gone to sleep, so I will go to awaken him.

Disciples: Lord, if he is sleeping, then he will be all right.

Narrator: Jesus used “sleep” as a metaphor for death, but the disciples took Him literally and did not understand.  Then Jesus spoke plainly.

Jesus: Lazarus is dead,  and I am grateful for your sakes that I was not there when he died. Now you will see and believe. Gather yourselves, and let’s go to him.

Narrator: As Jesus was approaching Bethany (which is about two miles east of Jerusalem), He heard that Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. Now many people had come to comfort Mary and Martha as they mourned the loss of their brother. Martha went to meet Jesus when word arrived that He was approaching Bethany, but Mary stayed behind at the house.

Martha: Lord, if You had been with us, my brother would not have died. Even so I still believe that anything You ask of God will be done.

Jesus:  Your brother will rise to life.

Martha: I know. He will rise again when everyone is resurrected on the last day.

Jesus:  I am the resurrection and the source of all life; those who believe in Me will live even in death. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never truly die. Do you believe this?

Martha: Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Anointed, the Liberating King, God’s own Son who we have heard is coming into the world.

Narrator: After this Martha ran home to Mary.

Fresco by Giatto
Fresco by Giatto

Martha (whispering to Mary): Come with me. The Teacher is here, and He has asked for you.

Narrator:  Mary did not waste a minute. She got up and went to the same spot where Martha had found Jesus outside the village. The people gathered in her home offering support and comfort assumed she was going back to the tomb to cry and mourn, so they followed her.  Mary approached Jesus, saw Him, and fell at His feet.

Mary: Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would still be alive.

Narrator: When Jesus saw Mary’s profound grief and the moaning and weeping of her companions, He was deeply moved by their pain in His spirit and was intensely troubled.

Jesus: Where have you laid his body?

Jews: Come and see, Lord.

Narrator:  As they walked, Jesus wept; and everyone noticed how much Jesus must have loved Lazarus. But others were skeptical.

Others: If this man can give sight to the blind, He could have kept him from dying. Then Jesus, who was intensely troubled by all of this, approached the tomb—a small cave covered by a massive stone.

Jesus: Remove the stone.

Die heilige  Bibel - illustration 1964, Salvador Dali
Die heilige Bibel – illustration 1964, Salvador Dali

Martha: Lord, he has been dead four days; the stench will be unbearable.

Jesus: Remember, I told you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God.

Narrator: They removed the stone, and Jesus lifted His eyes toward heaven.

Jesus: Father, I am grateful that You have heard Me. I know that You are always listening, but I proclaim it loudly so that everyone here will believe You have sent Me.

Narrator:  After these words, He called out in a thunderous voice.

Jesus: Lazarus, come out!

Narrator:  Then, the man who was dead walked out of his tomb bound from head to toe in a burial shroud.

Jesus: Untie him, and let him go.


I wonder what Mary and Martha and Lazarus were thinking when Jesus didn’t come immediately?

I wonder what is the best part of this story?

I wonder what is the hardest part of this story?

I wonder if anyone understood that Jesus was going to die in a few days time and be raised again?

I wonder if you would have been holding your nose when the tomb was opened?

I wonder if after his resurrection did Lazarus cry when he saw Jesus and his sister?

I wonder what the family did next?


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